An officer has been shot dead and a police facility set ablaze by gunmen in Imo State, Nigeria’s South-east, according to a report by Daily Trust newspaper.
The paper reported that the police spokesperson in the state, Michael Abattam, who confirmed the attack and the killing of the officer, said the incident occurred in the early hours of Tuesday.
The incident and the burning down of shops on Monday in a community in Oru East Local Government Area mark a return of deadly violence in Imo.
Some residents of the community accused the Nigerian Army of setting the shops ablaze as a reprisal after a soldier was shot dead by gunmen.
But the army denied the accusation, saying the shops were razed by some members of the pro-Biafra group, IPOB, who were angry that the shop owners opened them in disobedience to the sit-at-home order by the group.
“In the quest to compel citizens to comply with the unlawful order, IPOB/ESN criminals indulged in harassment, intimidation and physical abuse of commuters going about their lawful businesses,” the army said in a statement issued on Tuesday by Abubakar Abdullahi, the spokesperson for the 82 Division.
Mr Abdullahi, a major, said the IPOB members also set ablaze some businesses and homes at a road junction – Ishieke junction, along Owerri-Onitsha Express Way – “as a vendetta against the citizens for not complying with the illegal order.”
The army, in the statement, said a member of IPOB was killed during a shootout, while a soldier was shot dead by the group.
The army said it would continue to remain “professional” in its operations in Imo State.
The Imo State Government is yet to speak on the latest violence in the state.
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The Commissioner for Information in the state, Declan Emelumba, did not respond to calls and a text message seeking comment on the incident.
The agitation for an independent republic of Biafra, championed by IPOB, has led to several killings and destruction in the South-east.
IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu, is in detention in Abuja where he is facing trial for alleged treason.